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Moving Up and Down by Ferret

Posted by shirleycurran on 3 May 2019

One part of the wise advice that Roddy Forman would give to setters was that the device used in a crossword should be thematic. With that in mind as we read Ferret’s preamble, we were already prompted to think of installations that go up and down, and, of course, a funicular was the first to spring to mind (Mont Blanc and the Aiguille du Midi with its dramatic teleferique are visible from our front lawn) and I had memories of singing that song ‘Funiculi, Funicula (and disliking it) when I was the stand-in cat in a youth club Dick Whittington pantomime.

Solutions to half the vertical clues were to go up and an equal number to go down. Words were moving up and down in an equally balanced way within clues, the central columns were going to do just the same, and even the title obeyed the rule. Roddy would have been delighted. He would probably have appreciated the alcohol too: ‘Encounter involving Bass and US brewery (5)’ We moved ‘done’ up and ‘encounter’ down and put a B in PAST giving PABST which the other numpty knew to be an American brewery. (He’s an astonishing mine of weird and obscure information but I suppose that’s a trait shared by Listener solvers!) Ferret continued the alcohol theme with ‘He sold liquor to soldiers leaving Ulster (6)’ Again the other numpty produced a word from his arcane store. “It was a SUTLER who sold alcohol to soldiers.” so we realised that ULSTER had to be ‘working’, moved that word up and dropped the ‘leaving’ from the clue above. Cheers, Ferret! Membership of the Listener Oenophile lot retained.

We were lucky with the long words, ‘stated former’ anagramming to TERMS OF TRADE, and ‘old fossil’ suggesting PETRIFACTION and we particularly enjoyed PEANUT BUTTER made up of PEA(r) round NUTTER (a fruitcake) including BUT (merely). Our grid filled quickly and nicely with just a few doubts. We had no idea that DEF could mean ‘brilliant (Practised fitting around cut brilliant, giving us APT round DE(f) = ADEPT) but, as is so often the case, our grid was full before we made sense of the hint and we felt obliged to work backwards to it and correct a few of the words we had wrongly chosen to take up and down in the funicular.

VESUVIUS had appeared to prompt us that we were looking at a NEAPOLITAN INCLINED PLANE RAILWAY. Super setting and great fun. Thank you Ferret.


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Listener No 4550: Moving Up and Down by Ferret

Posted by Dave Hennings on 3 May 2019

It has been over two years since Ferret’s last Listener, Fieldwork with its theme of Crop Rotation. This week, we weren’t going round in circles, but up and down. This applied not only to the clues, where a word in each pair moved down with a word moving up to replace it, but also in the Vertical clues, where half were entered down and half up.

All in all, good fun trying to work out what words needed to move in order to make sense of the clues. Eventually, the initial letters of the moved words led to Neapolitan inclined plane railway. The last two words made me think we were dealing with Trains and Boats and Planes, but FUNICULI FINICULA soon became apparent in the central two columns of the grid with composer DENZA (who has a lot to answer for) and lyricist TURCO appearing there for good measure.

The song was composed in 1880. Unlike the funicular railway itself, it wasn’t destroyed in the eruption of Mount VESUVIUS in 1944. [Who just said “Unfortunately?” Ed.]

Thanks, Ferret. It’s always nice to see everything in a puzzle coming together thematically. And thanks to Turco and Denza for having the same number of letters in their names.

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L4550: ‘Moving Up and Down’ by Ferret

Posted by Encota on 3 May 2019

One for film and music buffs this week.

2019-04-12 21.27.08 copy.jpg

Funiculi Funicula, eh?

Hearing that it was whistled by Barbra Streisand’s character in the 1972 film What’s Up Doc was an interesting piece of trivia I picked up, esp as it was whilst following the pizza delivery man.

Talking of which, fans of the 1993 film ‘Super Mario Bros’ will recognise the tune to ‘Funiculi Funicula’ from the tones that begin every time MARIO and LUIGI appear. Those of you who’ve correctly completed this week’s Listener will of course have already followed the hidden instructions and highlighted MARIO & LUIGI jumbled in adjacent cells in the puzzle – see my grid to compare notes.

And speaking of brothers, you will also of course be very familiar with the English version of the song written by Robert and Richard SHERMAN in 1960 – in this case their surname is also shown jumbled and highlighted in the Grid.

And who can forget* the version of the same song by everyone’s favourite band, ALVIN & The Chipmunks, who appears lightly jumbled in the Grid as ANVIL.

Many thanks to Ferret for a gentle yet classy puzzle.

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

*In the ‘earworm’ sense, of course.  Talking of earworms, did any solver ever visit Disneyland Paris, where another Sherman Brothers’ song, “It’s A Small World After All” played incessantly on one France Telecom-sponsored ride that we took our (then) young children on?  Over twenty years later and I still require therapy.  Perhaps the most contagious earworm of all time 😉
I dare you to listen to it on Spotify / Youtube / wherever.  For example at:  I think my favourite comment from those who dared to listen is, “They should use this in hostage negotiations”

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From Where I’m Standing by Emu

Posted by shirleycurran on 26 April 2019

We were happy to see a relatively short preamble (though the three points of view it refers to kept us head-scratching for quite a while after we had completed a relatively gentle grid fill). Yes, I saw that Emu’s retention of his membership in the Listener Setters Oenophile Elite Outfit is rather tentative as his alcohol was in a very early stage ‘Grape and guava peeled and pureed (3)’ gave us an anagram of (g)UAV(a) – just the pureed grape, but ‘Cheers’ anyway, Emu. Someone has to provide the strong coffee. ‘Stimulant shot concealed by athlete’s press officer (8)’. Indeed, we can’t approve of those illegal stimulant shots but we did like the hidden ESPRESSO. (We had ‘shot’ as a potential extra word at first but ultimately opted for ‘Letters reprinted on every visible face of blocks’).

We were lucky in that a convenient Z emerging from a corrected misprint in the first clue – giving Zany for Many, soon led to ZIGGURAT appearing in those corrected letters. ‘Tenderfeet returned to split zany rocks giving crucial warning to Buffalo driver (9)’. We returned CUBS and inserted them into ROCKS* giving CROSSBUCK and were amazed to find that, for a driver in Buffalo that is a cross-shaped warning placed at a level crossing.

Not long after that, more corrected misprints gave us FROM WEST, so, with a full grid, we knew that viewing the ZIGGURAT from the west (presumably the left hand side of the grid) would reveal the ‘title character’s ultimate destination’. We had been told that ‘The grid represents a type of structure’ so I kick myself that it took us so long to see that we had to be looking at it from above. Even then we struggled to find ‘endless realms of day’.

Of course Google stepped in now and told us that the poem was The Eagle by e e cummings, and we could see EAGLE on the north side of the Ziggurat and THE on the east side so our point of view must be from the north-east, where we could see both of those sides of the structure and both the Es, and there was e e cummings, the poet, beginning at the apex of the poem. Robert Lorimer, the setter Opsimath, sent me this superb little reconstruction of the Ziggurat – he says it took him back to math model making, aged 11.

Dilemma! The poet would have been annoyed if we had written his name in upper case letters (and, in fact, the quotation begins half way along a line so would begin with a lower case e) but do we fill just his name in in lower case, the entire quotation too or even the entire grid? (Dare I mention KOHb at this stage?)

Many thanks to Emu for a challenging puzzle.

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L4549: ‘From Where I’m Standing’ by Emu

Posted by Encota on 26 April 2019

I loved the 3-D nature of this puzzle!  A Ziggurat, eh!?


Pulling a few strings with Lego I quickly got them to issue ‘The Eagle’ special edition of their 2009 Ramses ziggurat set and I was away (Yeah, right.  Away with the fairies, more like.  Ed.).

The extra eight words spelt out: LETTERS REPRINTED ON EVERY VISIBLE FACE OF BLOCKS – I think  I have that right!

The misprints in order spelled the following phrase: ZIGGURAT FROM WEST.  Hmmm.

Now imagine the grid to be in 3-D as a stepped pyramid-like structure.  Made of Lego, perhaps?

Then view said 3-D structure from the West (left hand side of the grid) and it spells out, row-by-row from top towards the bottom: ENDLESS REALM OF DAY …

This, in turn, proves to be part of a poem entitled The Eagle, by eecummings, or is that E.E.Cummings, depending on how early in his career he wrote it!?

If you now view the top of the ziggurat from the North-East, doubling up each letter on its NE ‘ridge’ to reflect the fact that letters are printed on every open face and two faces are visible from that direction, then the puzzle cleverly spells out:


A bit like this:


What a great piece of work – that is a lot of information hiding in the one grid.  Great work, Emu.  The final highlighting might then be considered as the shadow of that bird on the ziggurat – Eagle, not Emu, of course 😉

Great fun – many thanks John!

Tim / Encota

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